When you live in New York, you will be a good person to talk to for visitors intending to visit the city, as you are a local. And so is an Africa based tour operator a good choice to talk to when planning an African safari tour. A holiday destination is not only information in a travel guide, but also a feel and touch, that one only has when living there. The best is finding an organization with empathy and experience, that is based in Africa and that has also experience in other parts of the world to understand the needs of worldwide clients.
Find these people by browsing the Internet and reading the reviews of their clients and press. To be sure you found the right person, you can also request a phone call and find out by chatting, if you made the right choice. And of course there is word of mouth. When your friends were happy with the safari operator, you most likely will be happy too.
Whatever your way of planning your holiday is, your gut feeling will play a main role. Trust it.